Welcome to the Images Through The Door Blog. I started this blog with the thoughts of sharing some thoughts and musings, as well as information and data on upcoming shows, or tips about photography and where I have been lately. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Happy reading!
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For some time, I have been working on what my vision as a photographer is and what I want to accomplish. I know I have a deep passion for photography, and feel deeply connected to nature and the outdoors - the very things I work to capture in my work. My learning continues each day I work, and new experiences and areas present new challenges and opportunities. When you work outdoors as I do, Nature and the Seasons are your subject, and each change in them brings a chance to see something fresh and new. I love the freshness that Spring brings to the Earth, and at the same time, I understand that there cannot be new life without death.
When I worked as an RN in Critical Care, I experienced death more frequently and sometimes more painfully that I had been prepared to do. You learned to cope in many different ways - and picking up a camera and going outdoors was mine. This was my early path into photography and one I believe helped me many times over to be stable enough to help others through loss and crisis. Later on, I started learning and practicing meditation which carried over into both my nursing and photography life. I get away from it sometimes, but after a short time, I find myself returning to sitting meditation - even at times while I am outdoors doing photography. It grounds me and helps me get back to my center, and I know I need it.
One of the practices in meditation is something called "Tonglen". In this practice you breathe in and take in any suffering that others may feel, and breathe out and send out happiness, openness and compassion. You take in with a sense of compassion and send out with that same sense. You wish for all who are feeling pain to be free of it, and send out loving kindness to all beings - including yourself! (This is a somewhat simplified explanation, and there are many great books that can give more detail than I have here).
Over the past few weeks I have found myself in Tonglen many times - for those who were lost in the Oso tragedy, for all those lost in the missing plane event, and for my Dad as he declines due to cancer. I wish for less suffering, less pain, and that all who are intimately involved can be given peace and lovingkindness. We cannot always predict nor understand who lives and who dies, or when death will come. Everything has a season, even if it is often too short. We must hold in our hearts love and tenderness and send out these thoughts to the universe because somewhere else, someone is suffering in silence and pain. Our thoughts can reach them if we try. And through this, we understand that we are not alone in our pain, we are not alone in loss, and we can give ourselves that same compassion and love.
Breathe in, take in that pain and hurt and suffering. Transform it in your heart, warm it and give it love and send it back out as loving kindness and renewal, compassion and peace. It is needed everywhere, and it will be felt.
With blessings and love,
As most others, I often have a challenge dealing with change, and most especially when it has to do with a change in myself. I'm not quite as resilient or flexible as I would like to be, and often I find myself looking at different views and references to help me come to a decision. That seems to be the case in my current dilemma.
At the start of the year, I made a change to improve my health and diet, and found as I read more, and looked at what "diets" made the biggest impact on overall cardiovascular and general health, I was propelled toward a vegan plan. Granted, this was not new territory for me - I had done this some years ago, but had come back to including poultry, fish and dairy products. This time my impetus to change was based first on wanting to improve my health and the health of my spouse. I had not really even given a lot of thought to any other reason other than a health based one. I wanted to get rid of the unhealthful and replace it with healthful.
Then as I started to make the transition, I was borrowing vegan cookbooks from the local library to help expand my cooking repertoire. But with those books came more insight and information which started to spur questions - am I living as a compassionate being if I choose to eat in a way that causes harm to an animal? Do I want to do something that contributes to that harm? I know enough to understand that there is no slaughter-free animal agriculture system, and even at best, organic or "natural" animals still have to be killed before they magically appear in the grocery store. The fundamental ethical issue is that regardless of anything else, animals, no matter how they are labelled, must be manipulated, managed and ultimately killed for us to consume them. If I consider myself truly a compassionate, humane and ethical person, can I really say that is ok? If I truly want to live my values, isn't this a choice I need to consider?
So, here I am. Attempting to determine if a simple food choice says something about my ethics and values - and how this impacts not only me, but my husband, our family and friends (and even our local grocery store!). There is much to be said for trying to encourage empathy, kindness and compassion from both a social and spiritual aspect, and I have written about this in many of my blogs. And so, for me the question remains - is this more than a desire to be healthy, but rather one where I feel my personal choice makes a difference? I am trying to be clear on my own intention and where I stand. I don't have all the answers to be sure, and I certainly don't want to become arrogant or self-righteous about whatever decision to which I come. I am not looking to become an activist or tell anyone else how to live their life, I am just trying to clarify my own thoughts and determine what I feel. And there in lies my ethical and compassionate dilemma with which I am now beset. Yes, there's that silly change thing again, popping up to give a challenge. Thanks, I thought I was just trying to be healthy and now you have to bring ethics into it! Am I clear? Not quite yet, but I'm working on it.
The dictionary says that ethics is defined as a set of moral principles, rules of behavior based on what is good and bad with moral duty and obligation. In the end, our choices, and hopefully our lives, must reflect our values and motives and what internally guides us. As someone once said, you can't put someone else in charge of your morals - it's a personal discipline. So in that, only I can decide where my moral compass lies, and whether my desire to live a compassionate life personally reaches a larger context - one that includes how I treat every living being on Earth, not merely the human ones.
How do you feel? I would love to know.......
I was looking back through some older blog postings, and because of several things that have happened in my professional and personal life recently, this one really hit home. So I thought I would share this again with you, dear readers, in the hope that it might also resonate with you. Have a wonderful weekend!
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Do not resist them - that will only create sorrow. Let reality be reality. Allow things to flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. - Lao Tzu
This year I have been working to grow in my photography work, and one of the ways I am "stretching" myself has been to apply to openings and calls for artists. I know this is a very subjective process, and I hope to gain some insight into my work and how others view it. This week I received notice from one of the calls I had really hoped would happen. The notice was that I was not selected.
I was sad at first, then I started to reframe my thinking. How many other artists had applied, and hoped to be selected, just as I had. Yet there could only be one selection. And the one who was selected - how many times had they likely applied to calls, just as I did, before they were selected?
The truth is that there are different ways to view this moment. One is to allow yourself to become discouraged, to doubt yourself and perhaps even consider giving up on your dream. It's the easy way out. You do not have to put yourself on the line for criticism and rejection. This is the greatest weakness - to give up.
The other way is to look at this and rejoice in the fact that someone - who could be struggling and working just as hard for that chance, that opportunity - received it! How joyous! How affirming! This could be a new beginning, or just the boost needed to propel them forward into great things. Choosing to look at the moment in this way is difficult for us as humans, especially as competitive beings. Yet, it is so much more gentle and supportive - both of yourself and the other hard working artist who was selected. We can hold joy in our hearts for them and for ourselves for taking the step. These times allow us to evaluate ourselves and our work. They urge us onward and upward. They push us to ask - how can I be better, improve, learn and grow. They serve to reinforce that our dream may need more work, and this is not the time to give up!
Giving up on your dream means you don't have to do any of these things or look for an opportunity for learning and growth. Failure or rejection can simply be dismissed and forgotten. But if we do not give up on our dream, if we truly want to learn and grow we must understand it will not always be "our turn". There are many others who are working and working, and might now be the beneficiary of pushing themselves beyond the rejections they have also experienced. As artists, we should rejoice when a fellow artist has been recognized for their art and their work and for following their dream!
Indeed, our lives are a series of changes. We can choose to either embrace the changes, or rail against them, and take them personally in the "world is against me" mentality. As the above saying notes, this will only bring us sorrow. When we understand that life flows naturally, we understand that we are part of a collective of other beings who are also walking their paths, with goals that may be the same as ours. Our moment may not yet be here. These times are our opportunities to take a deeper look, to improve, to push further and become stronger. Nothing breeds success like failure! The desire to achieve, to improve, to go beyond your own imagined limits - these come from our rejections, our mistakes. These are the times when there may be a significant learning waiting for us to see it.
I choose to open my heart to understanding and rejoicing that another artist has been selected, and they did not give up on their dream! I can share in the joy they feel, and the happiness in their heart. I can reaffirm I am not giving up on my dream, and that I will continue on. I close with a quote from a person who knew and lived the meaning of try and try again. It was said that he made perhaps thousands of attempts before achieving success in inventing the incandescent light. So, be happy in your endeavors, and take joy in life, even when you don't get the first place ribbon - your path and your dream may just need a bit more time.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. - Thomas Alva Edison
As many of you know and since I have said this before, I am a complete and total Winter Olympic Games junkie. I love the Winter sports, and especially those that combine both athletic ability and artistry, like freestyle skiing, and figure skating (just don't get me started about the judging) and ice dancing. This year, I found myself totally enjoying the total team commitment and skills of the Canadian women's curling team, who went through the entire rounds without one single loss, culminating in the winning of the gold medal match. It was simply a stunning thing to happen especially given that the very best of the best were playing.
The other wonderful part of these Games this time was the inclusion of both the freestyle skiing half pipe and ski jumping for women. It seems hard to believe that it took this long to get these added for women competitors, especially since there are few winter sports, if any, that are singularly for the male competitors. And we owe the inclusion of both of these to very strong and determined women who were pioneers and champions for these sports. They worked long and tirelessly to convince the Olympic selection committee that these should be part of the events for women as well as men.
One of the women who worked and ultimately gave her life for freestyle skiing to be recognized was Sarah Burke. Sarah was a beacon of hope and spirit in sports, and embodied the true meaning of a leader. She spent time coaching young girls in sport, gave money and worked for charitable and philanthropic events, and was a true trailblazer, a pioneer and an inspiration to thousands of women and men. Sarah fought hard for equality and proved to the world that women deserved a place on the half-pipe and slope style, and the inclusion of these in the 2014 Olympics is owed largely to her efforts to bring the sport to light. She believed you should "dream without fear", and that was how she lived her life. She dreamed big, and believed, and the Sarah Burke Foundation carries forth the torch she lit.
We can learn a lot from people like Sarah. She was always pushing the edge of her sport, and her life, and lived in a way that would inspire others to do the same. There are many examples of people like this in sport, and in everyday life. They are the ones who look beyond what someone might say they can or cannot do, and do not define themselves by "normal" boundaries and rules. They believe in the greater good, the higher standard, and are not afraid to walk the road as trailblazers for those with the courage to follow. Our world is filled with everyday heroes not looking for glory or recognition, rather wishing and working to do the right thing, be a better person, and to dream without fear.
And so, dear friends, can we do the same? Can we DO the kinder act, BE the gentler soul, LIVE not for ourselves, but for others? Yes, I know we can if we think of others first, and think of what great and glorious things we can do not for our own glory, but rather because it gives hope to others who may be struggling, weary, and lost. We can and must be the beacon of hope and encouragement for others because our world today is fragile and tenuous, and hope has become so much more important for so many. So Dream Big, and act on that dream without fear because when your dreams are guided by compassion and love, you too, like Sarah and so many others can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
Namaste, and remembering Sarah,
For more information, please see the Sarah Burke Foundation at www.sarahburkefoundation.org
It's hard to believe that we are already to Valentine's Day, especially given the weather being experienced by much of the United States, (which is why I have an image of flowers to hopefully brighten the day!) but that's what the calendar says. I am sure that the flower shops and candy makers are thrilled at this time of year, but I hold a hope that for all of us, our show of "heart" goes on well past one "designated" day on the calendar.
I always look for little things to inspire me when I write this blog, and have found many things that give me "heart" as I have been watching the Olympic Winter Games. Yes, I do admit that I am a total Olympic junkie, so let's just go on. I am lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest close enough to the Canadian border that I get the Canadian television broadcast on my cable. They do a wonderful job of covering all the Olympic events, not just the ones that they have "big" stars competing - unlike what the American networks seem to do. They also focus on stories that have special meaning, like the freestyle skier who gets inspiration from his brother who suffers from cerebral palsy, or the sisters who compete together on the slopes. It's a little bit of understanding that even these hard working athletes can wear their hearts on their uniforms.
I think, though, my favorite story so far has been during one of the cross country skiing races, where a competitor fell and had a horrible crash on one of the more challenging turns. He was not in contention for a medal, but got up showing his determination to finish the race. He had a horribly broken ski, and even given that, you could see he was willing himself to go on. It seemed that no one was coming to his aid when suddenly, a coach for the Canadians (who is from the US), ran out and without even a word, took off the broken ski and replaced it with one he had with him for his team. The competitor went on to complete the race, and at the finish, you could see his gratitude and joy at being there - all due to the generosity of one person.
As it turned out, the coach was just there to watch the event as no one from the Canadian team had made the cut, but he still had some equipment with him. He said he could not think of anything else but to help this athlete, and to give him the chance to complete the event. This is the true spirit of competition, and of leading with your heart.
We each have opportunities - daily - that we can lead with our heart, show our spirit, and give to another. We just need to open our eyes, broaden our horizons and see past our own selves and understand that we can make a difference. We can offer a hand to someone who might be struggling, or a touch of a warm hard for someone in need. It's easy, once you look for ways to open your heart, and feel the warmth that giving of yourself brings.
Make every day a day of heart - not just the one on the calendar. You, and those around you, will benefit when you lead with your heart. Life will open to you in new and wonderful ways as we all have so many gifts to share. We can show our true loving spirit, and heartfelt love, and for doing that, dear friends, you will always receive a gold medal.